The Syrian conflict intensified in 2012, becoming more sectarian and violent, with the number of refugees climbing. Mass massacres shook Syria, with the UN saying both sides are to blame, while international involvement is increasing every day.
The number of massacres drastically amplified this year.
In the spring of 2012 more than a hundred innocent citizens, including 32 children, were killed in the cluster of villages in Syria’s western Homs province, dubbed the Houla massacre.
Damascus stated that a preliminary investigation showed 800 rebel fighters carried out the massacre. Earlier the government forces were blamed for the slaughter.
During the summer violence continue to intensify. Up to 80 men, women and children were reported slaughtered in the Syrian village of al-Qubair in central Hama province. The UN mission on the ground was not able to confirm the exact number of those killed, or who was responsible for the massacre.
Rebel fighters have attacked a housing compound for employees of a power company, killing 16 civilians, mostly Alawites and Christians in Jandar village near Homs in August.
Syria's crisis began in March 2011 with political protests that eventually fomented into a civil war, with scores of rebel groups across the country battling Syria’s President Bashar Assad's forces.
The conflict has taken the lives of over 45,000 Syrians and created a further 164,000 refugees, according to the Syrian Observatory of Human rights.
However, UN statistics say that some 20,000 people have been killed in the conflict.
In August a report by the UN human rights investigators said that both Syrian government forces and rebel fighters are committing war crimes during the conflict.
Later in December another UN human rights report revealed that the Syrian civil war is becoming increasingly sectarian, as Sunni-majority rebel forces fight government troops supported by the country’s religious and ethnic minorities.
The report said that foreign fighters with links to extremist Sunni groups are infiltrating Syria to fight against the regime of President Bashar Assad.
In an exclusive interview with RT, President Bashar Assad argued that the conflict in Syria is not a civil war, but proxy terrorism by Syrians and foreign fighters.
While mainstream media outlets generally report on the crisis as a battle between Assad and Syrian opposition groups, the president claims that his country has been infiltrated by numerous terrorist proxy groups fighting on behalf of other powers.
The Syrian National Coalition was formed on November 11, 2012, when the country’s disparate opposition leaders met in Doha. The body replaced the Syrian National Council, which had been criticized for being ineffective.
The newly-formed coalition has also been recognized by the Gulf Cooperation Council and Turkey.
Also, EU leaders have called on their foreign ministers to consider all options to support the Syrian opposition and put pressure on the Syrian leadership.
In November 2012, Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron suggested lifting the 2011 EU arms embargo against all sides in the Syrian conflict, which would allow Western countries to help the opposition in its fight against President Assad.
In addition, summer of 2012 was the time when Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile became a topic of international concern. Syria is reportedly in possession of nerve agents, including mustard gas, as well as the Scud missiles needed to deliver them.
American media reported extensively that the Syrian president is getting ready to use chemical weapons on his own people.
However, since July, President Bashar Assad’s government has repeatedly stated that chemical weapons will not be used on Syria, but he also has not excluded the possibility they might be deployed in the event of “a foreign attack.”
On top of that, in December UN chief Ban Ki-moon has stated that there are no confirmed reports that Damascus is preparing to use chemical weapons in the ongoing Syrian conflict.
Yet, on December 6 the an American aircraft carrier USS Eisenhower, which holds eight fighter bomber squadrons and 8,000 men, arrived at the Syrian coast, indicating US preparation for a potential ground intervention.
While the Obama administration has not announced any sort of American-led military intervention in the war-torn country, the US is now ready to launch such action “within days” if Assad decides to use chemical weapons against the opposition, the Times reported.
In the event of a foreign invasion of Syria, Assad warned, the fallout would be too dire for the world to bear.
Syria is “last stronghold of secularism and stability in the region” and instability will “have a domino effect that will affect the world from the Atlantic to the Pacific and you know the implication on the rest of the world. I do not think the West is going in that direction, but if they do so, nobody can tell what is next,” Assad told RT.